Joel Bitonio   OT/OG   Nevada

TALENT BOARD ROUND 3

STRENGTHS
Joel has shown in his workouts that he has excellent athletic talent. With this “combine” athletic talent you would expect Joel to be considered for more than one position on the offensive line for the team that selects him. What I see is a potential left guard or right guard as his impact position. He has good quickness off the snap and nice foot speed to recover inside, turn his hips and push his opponent up the field so his quarterback can slide in the pocket and extend a play. His play on the field at the Left Tackle position does not translate very well to the next level, but his athletic numbers do suggest that guard is his impact position for the next level.

CONCERNS
As far as playing Tackle in the NFL, I just don’t see it. Joel is easy to set up and beat when pass rushing because he lacks the “on the field” recall memory capabilities a Left Tackle needs to possess for the next level. He gets beat with the same pass rush move in a game from one quarter to the next. For a player with his athletic talent, he does not mirror his opponent very well and, once engaged when pass blocking, moves his feet like they are in cement. He is quick out of his stance, strong and plays with aggressive confidence which fits the guard position much better than tackle. As far as being a future center, he would have to prove he can make all the snaps and if he can that might be his best position in the future once he gains the needed experience.

BOTTOM LINE
Joel’s combine numbers compared to his play on the field are in conflict for the offensive tackle position at the next level. But if you take into account that Joel most likely won’t be considered as a Left Tackle for the next level then his athletic talent and play on the field seems to be more compatible. Joel has a lot to learn about playing guard at the next level. However, he is smart and although he struggled with the mental and physical responsibilities of the tackle position, he could very well become an excellent left guard. Left Tackle requires the unique mental talent of remembering how and what a player did to you from one play to the next or from the first quarter to the fourth. It’s like playing a game of chess and remembering the moves your opponent did earlier to set you up later for checkmate. The great ones have that ability plus excellent athletic talent. The good ones have that mental ability with solid athletic talent. The players who don’t make it mentally on the left side, but have the athletic talent and size get moved to the right side and covered up with the tight end or get help from a running back or H- back. Joel doesn’t have that good “on the field” recall memory. He will get beat a lot with the same move in the same game more than once when he is pass blocking. This doesn’t have anything to do with intelligence. I’m sure Joel is an intelligent person. It’s a talent that most players either have or they don’t have that comes from the need to survive and not lose. The talent to have an excellent recall memory during a game is the difference between impact playmaking players and just the good players. This “on the field” recall memory is what gives a player the ability to anticipate how to react in certain situations (that fraction of a second) before the snap of the ball and can give a player the quickness in reaction reflex to make a play beyond their athletic abilities. Don’t get it confused with experience as that’s learned reaction with the ability to guess a person’s habits. On the field recall memory… it’s what separates the great ones from the good ones. Joel should be a good guard or center once he gains the experience.

Drew Boylhart
APR/2014